We’re a week away from the United States Olympic Committee’s decision on which direction it will go for a future Winter Games bid city. It’s down to two, and has been for a while: Salt Lake City versus Denver, for what will likely be a bid for the 2030 Olympics.
While Salt Lake City is considered to have the upper hand, Denver’s hopes for being awarded the bid involve, well, a novel approach — namely, venue-sharing with other U.S. locales. As detailed in The Colorado Sun on Wednesday, Colorado’s Olympic officials and boosters explained why they believe a co-hosting situation would work.
Their overall pitch for an Olympics in Denver rests on other states, which could include Utah, hosting the sliding events such as bobsled, luge and skeleton. The report said building a sliding track in Colorado would derail the existing plan to privately fund the Olympics with no permanent venues. Denver’s 231-page report from the area’s Olympic and Paralympic Exploratory Committee explains how a partner would be necessary to pull off this sort of landmark move.
There are only a few fully functional sliding tracks in North America. The closest to Denver? Park City’s Utah Olympic Park, which was featured in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and is still part of World Cup stops for the respective sliding sports. Other tracks are located in Lake Placid, N.Y.; Whistler, British Columbia; and Calgary, Alberta.
“The Olympic movement is at a tipping point where the time is right for this kind of dialogue and discussion,” Rob Cohen, chairman of the Denver and Colorado exploratory committee, told The Colorado Sun.
Of the necessary venues for all sports and disciplines, Salt Lake City and Utah have all 16. Denver and Colorado have 13.
When reached for comment on the possibility on co-hosting a theoretical future Olympic Games, Fraser Bullock, a co-chairman of Salt Lake City’s Olympic Exploratory Committee, said he read Denver’s detailed report earlier this year.
“They refer to the strategy of using venues elsewhere,” he said.
One of the main attractions surrounding Salt Lake City’s bid aspirations would undoubtedly be a compact geographic Games that would serve all involved, starting with the athletes, down to the spectators and media, too. Bullock, who was the chief operating officer for the Salt Lake Olympic Committee in 2002, used an example of fans potentially being able to attend alpine or sliding events in Park City in the morning and make it back down to the valley in the afternoon to watch speedskating in nearby Kearns or figure skating in downtown Salt Lake City. Just as they could nearly 17 years ago.
“That is the strength of our experience,” he said.
Bullock confirmed that the Salt Lake City exploratory committee has met all of the USOC’s requests during this bid process, adding all necessary due diligence has been fully completed.
“We certainly feel like our budget and the cost elements that we have in our plan put us in a good position if we were able to host a Games again,” said Jeff Robbins, CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, who is also a co-chair on Salt Lake’s exploratory committee.
Now the waiting game. It won’t be long, though. Bullock said the USOC is expected to make an announcement on which city it will choose sometime next Friday after a board of directors meeting.